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May 17, 1941
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Grace Zabriskie (born Grace Caplinger; May 17, 1941) is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Sarah Palmer in Twin Peaks (1990–1991; 2017) and its film prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), as well as in cult films such as two of David Lynch's films: Juana Durango in Wild at Heart (1990) and Visitor #1 in Inland Empire (2006). Other film roles include Nickel Mountain (1984), Child's Play 2 (1990), and The Grudge (2004).
Zabriskie was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter of Marion Grace (Zabriskie) of Wyckoff, New Jersey, and Roger Thomas "Tom" Caplinger. Her mother had distant Polish ancestry, and was a relative of James Zabriskie, a 19th-century railroad industrialist and early pioneer of California. Zabriskie has said that her family was visited by Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal and Truman Capote during her childhood. Her father owned the famous French quarter gay bar, Cafe Lafitte in Exile.
In the early 1960s, Zabriskie was among a circle of Kerry Thornley's New Orleans friends. At one point, Thornley began work on a novel about her called Can Grace Come Out and Play? Thornley later claimed to have had an "eight-year-long, off-again-on-again, affair/friendship/rivalry/ego-game/karmic unraveling" with her, though Zabriskie described it as "four and a half minutes in bed".
Her sister Lane Caplinger worked as a typist in New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s office. Caplinger is reputed to have covertly produced all five copies of the first edition of the Principia Discordia in 1965.
After making her major film debut in 1979's Norma Rae, Zabriskie went on to appear in dozens of other works, including the 1981 Roger Corman horror film Galaxy of Terror, and the 1981 miniseries adaptation of John Steinbeck's East of Eden. She played the nanny in 1980's The Private Eyes, Debra Winger's mother in An Officer and a Gentleman, Heather Langenkamp's mother in Nickel Mountain, and Paul Le Mat's mother in 1984's The Burning Bed (starring Farrah Fawcett). She also appeared in 1989's Drugstore Cowboy and as the ill-fated orphanage owner Grace Poole in Child's Play 2. Other movies include the 1991 film adaptation Fried Green Tomatoes and Philip Ridley's 1995 film The Passion of Darkly Noon.
Zabriskie is perhaps most familiar for her television work. After a recurring role on the soap opera Santa Barbara, she played a major role on the David Lynch series Twin Peaks and its spin-off film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as Sarah Palmer, the eerily psychic mother of the doomed Laura Palmer. Zabriskie also appeared in Lynch's Wild at Heart — notably as the twin sister of a character played by Isabella Rossellini, an actress eleven years her junior. David Lynch later cast her as a sinister Polish neighbor in Inland Empire in 2006.
Zabriskie may best be remembered as Mrs. Ross, a recurring character on the sitcom Seinfeld. She played the mother of another doomed daughter, Susan Ross — George Costanza's fiancée — who died after licking cheap envelope adhesive when mailing out her wedding invitations. Zabriskie's character's husband on the series, who also appeared in a recurring role, was played by her former Twin Peaks co-star, Warren Frost.
She also made a brief but memorable appearance in the episode "S'ain't Valentine's" on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens, as the emotionally disturbed and alcoholic mother of Spence Olchin (played by Patton Oswalt). While the character Veronica Olchin would reappear throughout the series, Zabriskie would not portray her again, having been replaced by Anne Meara. She also starred as Lois Henrickson in Big Love, an HBO drama series that seriously explored the issue of polygamy, and appeared in several episodes of Aaron Spelling's series Charmed as The Crone.
She has worked in radio, collaborating with radio dramatist/monologist Joe Frank several times. In one episode of Frank's show, "Home (Original)", she talks at length about her childhood in New Orleans, with a focus on her father. Zabriskie recently appeared in the American remake of The Grudge, in which she played a senile elderly woman sensitive to the paranormal occurrences in her home.
|1978||They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way||Lem's Wife|
|1979||Norma Rae||Linette Odum|
|1980||The Private Eyes||Nanny|
|1981||Galaxy of Terror||Captain Trantor|
|1982||An Officer and a Gentleman||Esther Pokrifiki|
|1984||Nickel Mountain||Ellie Wells|
|1984||Body Rock||Chilly's Mother|
|1986||The Big Easy||Mama|
|1987||Leonard Part 6||Jefferson|
|1989||Drugstore Cowboy||Bob's Mother|
|1990||Megaville||Mrs. Jessica Palinov|
|1990||Wild at Heart||Juana Durango|
|1990||Child's Play 2||Grace Poole|
|1991||Ambition||Mrs. Wendy Merrick|
|1991||Servants of Twilight||Grace Spivey|
|1991||My Own Private Idaho||Alena|
|1991||Fried Green Tomatoes||Eva Bates|
|1992||FernGully: The Last Rainforest||Magi Lune (voice)|
|1992||Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me||Sarah Palmer|
|1992||Chain of Desire||Linda Bailey|
|1993||Even Cowgirls Get the Blues||Mrs. Maria Hankshaw|
|1994||The Last Laugh||Louise||Short film|
|1994||The Crew||Gloria Pierce|
|1995||Desert Winds||Jackie's Mother|
|1995||The Passion of Darkly Noon||Roxy|
|1996||A Family Thing||Ruby|
|1996||Bastard Out of Carolina||Granny|
|1997||Seed||Mother's Voice||Short film|
|1997||Psycho Sushi||Great Aunt|
|1997||George B.||The Mother|
|1997||Dead Men Can't Dance||Brig. Gen. Burke|
|1997||Annie's Garden||Mrs. Felicity Barnes|
|1999||Trash||Mrs. Wendy DeMarie|
|1999||A Texas Funeral||Murtis|
|1999||Me and Will||Edith|
|2000||Home the Horror Story||Grace Parkinson|
|2000||A Fate Foretold||Olga||Short film|
|2000||Puppy Love||Jeanette Foley||Short film|
|2000||Gone in 60 Seconds||Helen Raines|
|2001||They Crawl||Mrs. Gage|
|2002||No Good Deed||Mrs. Karen Quarre|
|2003||The Wind Effect||Allison||Short film|
|2004||The Last Letter||Mrs. Stella Allison|
|2004||Sabine and the Two-Headed Baby||Sabine||Short film|
|2006||Inland Empire||Visitor #1|
|2007||License to Wed||Grandma Jones|
|2007||Alternate Endings||Mom||Short film|
|2009||Bob Funk||Mrs. June Funk|
|2009||My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?||Mrs. Joan McCullum|
|2013||Trancers: City of Lost Angels||The Warden||Short film|
|2014||The Judge||Mrs. Anita Blackwell|
|2014||The Makings of You||Margaret||Also producer|
|1978||The Million Dollar Dixie Deliverance||Widow Cummins||TV movie|
|1979||Concrete Cowboys||Mrs. Kate Barnaby||Episode: "Concrete Cowboys"|
|1979||Freedom Road||Ruth Lait||TV movie|
|1980||CBS Afternoon Playhouse||Episode: "Lost in Death Valley"|
|1980||Blinded by the Light||TV movie|
|1981||East of Eden||Mrs. Catherine Ames||TV miniseries|
|1981||Hart to Hart||Ethyl||Episode: "A Couple of Harts"|
|1982||The Executioner's Song||Kathryne Baker||TV movie|
|1983||Tales of the Gold Monkey||Dr. Clouet||Episode: "Last Chance Louie"|
|1983||M.A.D.D.: Mothers Against Drunk Drivers||Silvie Alice Kohler||TV movie|
|1983||Cagney & Lacey||Adele||Episode: "Affirmative Action"|
|1984||My Mother's Secret Life||Maggie Ryan||TV movie|
|1984||Knots Landing||Chambermaid||Episode: "Negotiations"|
|1984||The Burning Bed||Flossie Hughes||TV movie|
|1984||Paper Dolls||Cathy||Episode: "1.8"|
|1985||ABC Afterschool Special||Mrs. Linton||Episode: "One Too Many"|
|1985||Santa Barbara||Theda Bassett||17 episodes|
|1985||North Beach and Rawhide||Hearings Officer||TV movie|
|1985||Shadow Chasers||Mary Komatar||Episode: "Shadow Chasers: Part 1"|
|1986||Hill Street Blues||Terry Sylvestri||Episode: "Das Blues"|
Episode: "Scales of Justice"
|1986||Cagney & Lacey||Eva Sikorski||Episode: "Model Citizens"|
|1987||Falcon Crest||Mabel Burton||Episode: "When the Bough Breaks"|
Episode: "The Cradle Will Fall"
|1988||The Bronx Zoo||Mrs. Barris||Episode: "Ties That Bind"|
|1988||My Father, My Son||Mouza||TV movie|
|1988||Shooter||Sister Marie||TV movie|
|1988||Empty Nest||Eva Barrett||Episode: "Pilot"|
|1989||The Ryan White Story||Gloria White||TV movie|
|1989||Unsub||Alma||Episode: "White Bone Demon"|
|1989||A Deadly Silence||Psychologist||TV movie|
|1989||Moonlighting||(uncredited)||Episode: "In 'N Outlaws"|
|1990||Tales from the Crypt||Mrs. Colbert||Episode: "The Secret"|
|1990||Hometown Boy Makes Good||Helen Geary||TV movie|
|1990–1991||Twin Peaks||Sarah Palmer||13 episodes|
|1991||Prison Stories: Women on the Inside||Genevieve||TV movie|
|1991||Blood Ties||The Woman||TV movie|
|1991||Intimate Stranger||Dana P. Ashley||TV movie|
|1992||Freshman Dorm||Episode: "Pilot"|
|1992||A House of Secrets and Lies||Ruby||TV movie|
|1992||Seinfeld||Mrs. Ross||Episode: "The Cheever Letters"|
|1993||Bonds of Love||Emma||TV movie|
|1993||Miracle Child||Adeleine Newberry||TV movie|
|1993||Black Widow Murders: The Blanche Taylor Moore Story||Ethel||TV movie|
|1993||Banner Times||Momma||TV movie|
|1993||Double Deception||TV movie|
|1993||Sirens||Female Store Owner||Episode: "Keeping the Peace"|
|1993||Angel Falls||Cuema||1 episode|
|1994||Lifestories: Families in Crisis||Sandy Henry||Episode: "A Body to Die For: The Aaron Henry Story"|
|1995||Crazy for a Kiss||Pearl Kinross||TV movie|
|1995||Children of the Dust||Rose||TV movie|
|1995||Under Suspicion||Lily Cassins||Episode: "Hostage Standoff"|
Episode: "Wrongful Shooting"
|1995||Empty Nest||Scarlett||Episode: "Life Goes On: Part 1"|
Episode: "Life Goes On: Part 2"
|1995||Fallen Angels||Virna||Episode: "The Black Bargain"|
|1995||NYPD Blue||Wanda Padzik||Episode: "The Bookie and the Kooky Cookie"|
|1996||A Promise to Carolyn||Francie Harper||TV movie|
|1996||Second Noah||Mrs. Cheval||Episode: "Stormy Weather"|
|1996||Murder at My Door||Grandma||TV movie|
|1996||The Burning Zone||Retired CIA Agent||Episode: "Touch of the Dead"|
|1996-1998||Seinfeld||Mrs. Ross||4 episodes|
|1997||NYPD Blue||Millie Banks||Episode: "A Remington Original"|
|1997||High Incident||Episode: "Remote Control"|
|1997||Over the Top||Dolly||Episode: "The Southern Story"|
|1997||The Devil's Child||Rose DeMarco||TV movie|
|1998||Dharma & Greg||Naomi||Episode: "It Takes a Village"|
|1998||Houdini||Mrs. Weiss||TV movie|
|1998||Profiler||Mrs. Boudreaux||Episode: "The Sum of Her Parts"|
|1999||The King of Queens||Veronica||Episode: "S'ain't Valentine's"|
|2000||Jesse||Grandma Rose||Episode: "Jesse Gives Birth"|
|2000||The West Wing||Isabel||Episode: "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part II"|
|2002||The Guardian||Judith||Episode: "The Dead"|
|2002||The Glow||Sylvia Goodstein||TV movie|
|2002–2003||John Doe||Yellow Teeth||6 episodes|
|2003||Charmed||The Crone||Episode: "Baby's First Demon"|
Episode: "Sense and Sense Ability"
|2005||Medium||Connie Buckley||Episode: "The Other Side of the Tracks"|
|2006–2011||Big Love||Lois Henrickson||52 episodes|
|2013||The Killing||Mama Dips||3 episodes|
|2015||Ray Donovan||Miss Monassian||6 episodes|
|2017||Santa Clarita Diet||Mrs. Baković||2 episodes|
|2017||Twin Peaks||Sarah Palmer||6 episodes|
|2018||The Alienist (TV series)||Johns Grandmother||4 episodes|
- Gorightly, Adam (2003). The Prankster and the Conspiracy. New York: Paraview Press. p. 265. ISBN 1-931044-66-X.
- HBO. "New Orleans native Grace Zabriskie concludes a long goodbye to 'Big Love's' Lois". NOLA.com. Retrieved 2018-01-21.
- Wanda Tomczykowska. The Silent Heroes: Polish Contributions to California. Polish Arts and Culture Foundation, 1994
- HBO: Big Love - Interviews - Grace Zabriskie[dead link]
- Gorightly, Adam (3 October 2014). "Kerry Thornley's Paranoid Flash". Historia Discordia. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
- Gorightly, Adam (2014). Historia Discordia The Origins of the Discordian Society. New York: RVP Press. p. 221. ISBN 978-1-61861-321-9.
- Sellers, John. "The Zabriskie Principle: Why the Big Love Finale Wasn't Really a Shocker." Los Angeles, California: The Wrap, March 21, 2011.